Insidious (from director James Wan)
When the Lambert family (funny, I don’t remember them saying Lambert at any time during the film) moves into a new home things seem to be going along nicely until well, they’re not. Supernatural instances start to occur, small at first but after young Dalton falls into a mysterious coma, everything quite literally falls apart. The family then calls in a specialist who claims young Dalton’s spirit is lost somewhere in the Further where a demon plans to steal his mortal body.
in·sid·i·ous/inˈsidēəs/Adjective: Proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects. True to form, this film plays out very closely to the title’s meaning; it’s a slow burn and yes, it may begin the assault on your nerves in a subtle fashion but rest assured that changes really fast once you hit the half hour mark. I have to admit, I wasn’t “wowed” by this film’s trailer. The “INSIDIOUS IS” nonsense felt a bit too gimmicky for my tastes but director James Wan is the man so I held onto hope. Say what you will about the current state of the SAW franchise but Wan’s original was nothing short of a masterpiece from where I’m standing and lest we forget his vastly underrated DEATH SENTENCE which also kicked some major ass. The only thing I wish they’d not done was show the demon in the trailer, he’s five kinds of awesome don’t get me wrong but sometimes less is more and this is one of those times. From a Horror standpoint (and I love my Horror) this film gave us a raw reimagining of a milked dry concept that went out with a loud bang baby!
Now before I heap on the praise, let’s deal with the one tiny elephant in the room. There is a slight pacing issue for the first twenty minutes to half hour. I won’t beat around the bush here people, it’s slow. I think even a couple small tidbits like “why did they move in the first place” for starters may have helped that along. Something seemed to have happened but they never do explain it, instead the film tries to make it look like there’s marriage issues as Josh suddenly begins to work late almost every night. This train of thought is completely abandoned when all the creepy stuff starts pounding at full force which leads to the good news being that the rest of film more than makes up for the weak beginning. That said, I’m also not a fan of baby monitor whispering, doors opening and closing and the creaking of old staircases. These things added to my sense of worry during the first half hour as the last thing we needed was another PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Thankfully that didn’t happen.
I first came upon the idea behind spirit walking in John Saul’s Horror awesome Horror novel BLACK LIGHTING. Naturally being that it was a novel there was far more time to explain and covet the concept which no doubt helps my understanding of it here in this film. Where they go with it here is cool, I didn’t expect them to take on such a physical avenue but it worked and I enjoyed it. The red faced demon was also a nice treat. They didn’t push him too hard so when you did see him it drained the blood from your face, literally. The tone and score (though a little overboard at times) pushed all the right buttons when it came down to terror. I personally wasn’t scared but it was unnerving to say the least and I can’t wait to watch it with my girlfriend just so I can watch her squirm.
INSIDIOUS plays a dangerous game here as the trailer strongly implies “more of the same” but again, I found it quite different and surprisingly entertaining. I loved the Ghostfacer dudes (a sly wink in SUPERNATURAL’s direction) and thank God there’s always an eccentric old lady in the neighbourhood who knows how to throw down with the evils of the beyond (Lin Shaye kicked the tires and lit the fires). I enjoy Patrick Wilson’s work and he continued to put out big numbers here as well, but somebody needs to get Rose Byrne a cheeseburger or something cause she’s looking a little frail. Now as for the ending, well, my lips are sealed on that topic but I dug it and think this film was a big win for Horror in a day and age when we’re losing the battle. Let’s just hope SCREAM 4 doesn’t make all us Horror fans cry inside later this month.